Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was east.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Vancouver East (B.C.)

Lost her last election, in 1997, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Budget Implementation Act, 1995 June 6th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-76 for the second time. While previously I spoke on the total content of the act, today I wish to speak to part V of the act and particularly on social transfer and social programs.

While I understand the concept behind the change of payment of social services to the provinces and the need for taking some drastic steps, I am concerned about the application of the funds.

We all know the importance of social programs and the high rate of acceptance by Canadians for such programs, amounting to over 70 per cent of our population.

The legislation for the Canada assistance plan was passed in 1996, but since then over 14 million people either were born in Canada or came as immigrants. Provinces in the meantime have become more progressive and have asked for more autonomy. The new legislation will offer greater flexibility to the provinces to deal with the distribution of social programs.

All this would be fine if the government did not have to cut payments to the provinces. These cuts are necessary to deal with the debt and the deficit. If payments were to continue on the same basis as in the past, they would soon have to be phased out altogether.

Although these are sensible decisions, we cannot forget those who will suffer most as a result of these cuts. When Canadian taxpayers asked us not to raise taxes, I often explained this would mean cutting services and programs, which would not help the poor and those who need social assistance.

Being on welfare has become a stigma. Society has a tendency to label people without taking into consideration that life is not treating everybody in the same manner. We know that as long as there are rich there will be poor, but it is up to the rest of society to make sure the needy are treated fairly. People on welfare are very vulnerable and have to struggle to keep afloat.

Too many people are poor in Canada. One child out of five lives under the poverty line and where there are poor children there are poor parents. Statistics do not mean much. They are just numbers and behind them there are real people. Every percentage point means several human beings, each one of them with rights and privileges like everybody else.

In my riding many of the children in the inner schools eat only one meal a day provided by the school board. They wear clothes donated to them and never want to go home because they do not have a home, they have a house, often empty, where there is no warmth or affection. Often children look for affection elsewhere with the consequences we all know.

Last week the Minister of Health was in an inner school of my riding to announce the head start program for aboriginal families. The children in the school, many aboriginal, gave the minister a great welcome. She spoke to the children. She spent time with them and this, for the children who spoke to the minister, was probably the highlight of their school year and was a great shot in the arm for the parents who were present and for the teachers and the principal who live with all the difficulties day in and day out.

Some say God made mothers because he could not be everywhere. Long ago I added to the word mother, intended for parent, the word teacher because of the hard work many of them do with many of our children, especially with those who need it the most.

These children are not mere numbers. They are individuals, our men and women of tomorrow. What an opportunity we miss. They could be the professionals and the tradesmen of tomorrow and a lot of potential is going to waste because of the lack of resources they are faced with. These children represent one-fifth of the population of tomorrow.

The other day I visited skid row in Vancouver. In one of the hotels I met a young aboriginal man, and we had a conversation. This young man, who is very intelligent, had finished high school, went to college for two years and to university for three, and had lived a decent life until he started using drugs. What a shame and what a waste.

There was also a very young woman who was coming out of the hotel. She was too young and too vulnerable to be going to a hotel on skid row. What a shame and what a waste.

This misery can be found all over the world, but in Canada we should not allow it to happen. CAP exists to try to give some dignity to people who would otherwise live in sheer poverty.

My concern about the new system is the loss of the five rights which up to now have been imposed on CAP: the right to income when in need; the right to an amount of income that takes into account budgetary requirements; the right to appeal; the right not to have to work or train for welfare; and the right to income assistance regardless of the province you are from.

Part V of Bill C-76 only maintains the fifth right requiring that "no period of minimum residency be required or allowed with respect to social assistance". Maintaining only this right is not enough. Each province could go in a different direction and deny welfare for other reasons. This would increase poverty and crime and would put even more people on the street. If a province denies individuals welfare, it is possible to move to another province, but if all the provinces do the same, where would people go for help? South of the border?

Poverty is everywhere. Last week, my opposition colleague said that in a separate Quebec, there would be no more poverty, but I think we will have to think very seriously about all of us working together, if we want to reduce poverty and improve the circumstances of so many Canadians. I believe that united we stand and that together we can get the best results.

I know that the bill provides for consultations with the provinces to reach mutual agreement on social programs. But I also believe that if we maintain the five principles of the welfare program at the federal level, we can at least have a discussion based on these principles.

The House finance committee in its recent report has backed the right of appeal. This is a very sound decision and an important recommendation. I would like, as would many other people, to see this recommendation implemented and the remaining rights maintained.

Let me go back to my riding where there is the only emergency day care in the city of Vancouver. The greatest majority of children in day care have drug related and alcohol related syndrome. The reason: poverty. In my riding, there is the food bank where tons and tons of food are distributed on a regular basis to hundreds of people. The food bank is not alone in offering this service; other good hearted people do the same. This is found all over Canada. If we abandon the rights of CAP, we also abandon these people creating a new category of poor. Because of this action we will have many more program disparities than we have now.

I have met several people since budget day. These people have the poor at heart. They are those who work on skid row, those who teach in the inner schools, those who deal with people with disabilities. I thank these people for their assistance to me over this month. They really hope that when the minister of human resources meets with his provincial counterparts they will find a consensus and will keep the five rights.

National Transportation Week June 6th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, this week is National Transportation Week. In a country as vast as Canada, the transportation network-with all its railways, highways, ports and airports-is very important.

Most of the largest Canadian port, the Port of Vancouver, is located in my riding of Vancouver East.

In addition to fast growth of its traffic in the movement of goods, the port of Vancouver has a very dynamic cruise industry which in 1994 delivered an estimated $140 million in benefits to the British Columbia economy and over 580,000 passengers.

Recently the Ballantyne pier, built in my riding in the twenties, reopened its terminal to help serve the cruise industry. This season the Ballantyne terminal will greet 64 of the 292 sailings calling on the port of Vancouver.

The terminal is now a state of the art facility for new cruise ships, boasting passenger loads of 2,000 to 3,000 people, thanks to new gangways that have the capability to be set up in a record seven minutes.

This is a unique way of protecting the past while serving the future. The Vancouver Port Corporation deserves to be congratulated for its vision.

Sergeant Thomas Joachim Hoppe June 1st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, heroes are very much in demand nowadays. We all want a role model to emulate and when we meet one we feel very privileged.

Yesterday, the Governor General of Canada presented decorations for meritorious service to a number of Canadians who performed above and beyond the call of duty. Three of these people are from British Columbia.

Sergeant Thomas Joachim Hoppe from Vancouver was awarded the meritorious service cross in the military division for displaying outstanding leadership and ensuring the safety of his patrol and his mission while commanding a key observation post located between Serb and Muslim forces in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Sergeant Hoppe was also awarded the medal of bravery for rescuing three Muslim children who were under direct fire near Visoko in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Sergeant Hoppe is the first soldier since World War II to receive two of Canada's top military awards for exceptional bravery.

On behalf of all Canadians, I wish to congratulate Sergeant Hoppe and all recipients for their acts of bravery and for making all of us very proud of our peacekeepers.

Chinese Canadian Association Of Public Affairs May 18th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to welcome to Ottawa the hon. Darlene Marzari, B.C. Minister of Municipal Affairs; Mr. George Ford, her deputy minister; His Worship Greg Halsey-Brandt, mayor of Richmond and chair of the Greater Vancouver Regional District; Her Worship Beth Johnson, mayor of Delta; Hew McConnell, manager of GVRD; and 15 young ambassadors of Canada.

Every year the Chinese Canadian Association of Public Affairs sends a number of students of Chinese origin to Ottawa for a week of meetings with parliamentarians and leaders of the House parties.

Yesterday, I was pleased to have a number of young men and women visit my office. They were accompanied by the organizers. I have encouraged young Canadian students to take part regularly in the political process.

Let me thank the Chinese Canadian Association of Public Affairs for offering young Canadians such a great experience.

Air-India Disaster May 17th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the motion before the House presented by my hon. colleague. It is on behalf of the 329 people who were killed, on behalf of the 280 Canadians, and on behalf of their families tragically and instantaneously hit that I would like to see justice done.

We need a royal commission because if a train full of Canadians on Canadian territory were blown up we would find immediate justice. These Canadians cannot be brought back. We must find justice for them because they are silent.

The Liberal Party is known for being a compassionate party. Its members believe in justice and feel they have to ask for justice on behalf of the many communities of Canada, especially for the Sikh communities.

Vancouver East has a lot of immigrants; 45 per cent is made up of new immigrants. Some belong to the Sikh community. When I was elected I made a promise to fight on their behalf. Some of these communities do not have much of a voice and it is entirely up to us, to the government, to the members of the House to speak on their behalf. We were put here to do that.

In this tragic instance when no justice seems to have been served, when we value ourselves as those who speak about justice and human rights, we have to intercede on behalf of those who cannot speak.

I would like to see a royal commission struck to look into this accident. It took too long. We cannot let this go again. I would also like to move that this motion be votable.

Petitions May 17th, 1995

Mr. Speaker the second petition signed by 1,100 individuals concerns the Young Offenders Act.

The petitioners request that Parliament amend the act to automatically try a youth in adult court for any crimes of violence and to provide for public identification of a convicted, young dangerous offender.

Petitions May 17th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to present two petitions from the province of British Columbia on behalf of the Minister of National Revenue.

The first petition signed by 42 individuals deals with the issue of sexual orientation.

Supply May 11th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am a little disappointed at times by Reform members because they promised more courtesy and sometimes they do not show that. They also said they would bring to the House much better behaviour and from this corner I do not see it. I am one of those who try to be mindful of others. I also came into politics without really wanting to, but I am here now and I respect everyone but I do not seem to receive respect from everyone.

Democracy is a very strange animal. At times it is extremely uncomfortable and at times it is not very acceptable. However, it is the only system we know. As we know, democracy means the majority rules. Every time we have a discussion among party members it is held in caucus. In caucus at times we argue quite passionately because we do not always agree. There are 177 of us and we all have a different opinion and a different constituency to serve. However, in the end the majority rules. As I said, at times it is not easy.

If we did not have a party behind us I do not know how many of us would have made it. There is only one person in the House elected as an independent. We have to remember that.

When my three colleagues were punished I was not happy with it. I read it in the newspaper and I did not agree with it. However, after I thought about democracy and how the majority rules and how it is important to understand each other, I started to agree with it. I also realized some people in our caucus were hurt by the action of our colleagues.

We owe much more respect to each other and I would also like to see the better behaviour which was offered.

Housing May 10th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, last week I had the privilege of speaking to the Habitat for Humanity board of directors, whose members were meeting in Ottawa.

Habitat for Humanity is an international non-profit organization dedicated to the elimination of poverty housing. Habitat builds homes for low income families, relying on volunteer labour and donated materials from various sources.

Those who qualify for houses are required to pay a reasonable mortgage and the money they pay goes towards the construction of other houses. They must also help build their own and other Habitat houses. To date, Habitat has constructed more than 22,000 houses in 40 countries of the world.

In Vancouver East, my riding, they say that approximately 8,000 people are without acceptable housing. I am pleased to announce that my riding will be the first in British Columbia to have Habitat houses.

Habitat is truly a humanitarian effort. It is vital that we encourage the initiatives of organizations like Habitat for Humanity.

Divorce Act May 4th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I rise because I also feel very strongly about this bill. I have the fortune of having grandparents and I have the fortune of having an extended family. Unfortunately, my son never had that luxury. My parents and my in-laws are in Italy. I always felt guilty, because I know what a comfort grandparents can be, both for the family and for the children.

When I went to Italy with my son, who was then five, I realized how much he and his grandfather were alike and how much they missed each other and how much they enjoyed each other.

I believe that we have to always take into consideration the needs the children have. We seem to forget that many times. Since we are adults and we are the ones who have to help children to get what they need, I think we should definitely support this particular piece of legislation and make sure that the children are taken care of and that we allow their grandparents to take care of them whenever possible.